In honor of Srila Prabhupada’s 125th birth anniversary, a special Zoom series for teens and youth will run this August, in which Prabhupada disciples will share memories of serving the ISKCON Founder-Acharya during their own youth.
Sitalila Dasi of ISKCON Sydney, Australia, a mentor and certified counselor who helps run Sunday Schools and youth camps, is organizing the “Prabhupada Special Series” with her husband Sumedha Gauranga Das. The two are co-directors of Teen Tweet Club, which nurtures teens holistically and has already offered a number of online spiritual seminars.
Around 125 youth aged 12 to 18 have registered for the Prabhupada Special Series from Australia and other countries that overlap with its timezone such as the UK, the Netherlands, India and Nepal. The series will consist of four 90-minute Zoom sessions on successive Saturdays – August 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th.
“This has always been on my mind since I moved to Sydney, as there are many disciples of Srila Prabhupada here,” Sitalila comments. “In the past, I had tried to organize a get-together, but it didn't happen for logistical reasons. I personally love hearing Srila Prabhupada's katha a lot, and that's how I connect more deeply with him. I was also thinking that most of Srila Prabhupada's disciples must have been in their teens or youth when they joined the movement, yet they joined with enthusiasm and dedicated the best years of their lives to serving Srila Prabhupada.
“Now, many of them are leaving this world, so I thought that today's youth should be brought closer to the association of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples, which is becoming rarer as time progresses. The youth are our future and it is our duty to bring them closer to our Founder-Acharya Srila Prabhupada. By hearing directly from Prabhupada's disciples, today's youth can understand how they experienced Srila Prabhupada's love and feel that love themselves.”
Twelve Prabhupada disciples, many of them from Australia, will participate in the series – three on each Saturday.
The first Zoom session, on Saturday August 7th, will feature Indradyumna Swami, Ambika Devi Dasi, and Pratapana Das.
Born in 1949 in Palo Alto, California, Indradyumna Swami left aside his university studies at an early age to devote himself to the search for spiritual knowledge. He joined ISKCON in 1970, and received initiation from Srila Prabhupada. In 1971, he traveled to Europe to help open new ISKCON centers, and in 1979, at the age of 29, he entered the renounced order of sannyasa, dedicating his life to missionary activities as a celibate monk. In the early 1980s, he served as temple president of the New Mayapur chateau temple and farm in France. Since 1986, he has been well-known for traveling and spreading Krishna consciousness throughout the world. Perhaps his most well-known effort is his annual traveling Festival of India tour in Poland, which (pre-pandemic) attracted thousands of people to learn about and relish the nectar of Krsna consciousness through music, dance, drama, spiritual discussion, and prasadam.
Ambika Devi Dasi joined ISKCON in 1971, when she was just 18 years old. Her services included pujari service and teaching. More recently, she has served as a spiritual mentor for women within the Hare Krishna Community of New Govardhana, in New South Wales Australia. Ambika helps new devotees with personal guidance at an individual and group level. As a senior devotee she offers assistance within all aspects of devotional life, including guiding individuals and groups in devotional practices; imparting scriptural knowledge; offering sound advice about life choices; responding to philosophical inquiries; offering encouragement in times of difficulty; and acting as a friend and a confidant.
Pratapana Das, meanwhile, joined ISKCON in 1974, and spent his first years traveling around Australia doing book distribution. In 1976, he undertook a world tour, doing Sankirtana around the globe. In 1981, he returned to Sydney, married Jayasri Devi Dasi and took on the service of ISKCON Sydney temple president for ten years, after which he has been managing Govinda’s Restaurant in Sydney for the last thirty years.
Following the first session featuring these luminaries, other speakers will include Krishnarupa Devi Dasi, Bhagavata Ashraya Das, and Sarva Mangala Devi Dasi on August 14th; Jivanath Das, Jagatarini Devi Dasi, and Rasarani Devi Dasi on the 21st; and Ramai Swami, Mahotsa Das, and Surabhi Devi Dasi on the 28th.
“Most of them joined the movement when they were youth and teens, just like our audience,” Sitalila says. “They will be sharing how they connected with Srila Prabhupada, what motivated them to dedicate the best part of their life to Srila Prabhupada, and what their message is for today’s youth. They will also be sharing their experiences, personal interactions and pastimes with Srila Prabhupada. We want our audience to be captivated and absorbed in the memories of Srila Prabhupada leading up to his 125th appearance anniversary.”
During the live Zoom sessions, the youth will also have the opportunity to ask questions.
“For teens and youth, this is a wonderful opportunity to hear directly from Srila Prabhupada's disciples and have their valuable association,” says Sitalila. “By doing so, we expect them to develop deeper trust and faith in Srila Prabhupada and to easily connect with Srila Prabhupada in his murti form. For their part, I think that Srila Prabhupada’s disciples will enjoy reliving those wonderful moments they spent with Srila Prabhupada by getting absorbed in those memories.”
Every birth anniversary of Srila Prabhupada, Sitalila believes, is special. “Sometimes we just need an excuse to make it extra special and to try to do something grander!” she comments. “Srila Prabhupada is still alive in the form of his books, his murti and his innumerable photos and videos. I am sure for Srila Prabhupada's disciples, every day is Srila Prabhupada's birth anniversary, as they carry him in their hearts. And even though he is not physically present, these wonderful disciples always remember those moments they cherished with him. Srila Prabhupada is not in his vapu (physical) form, yet they feel so connected to him as if he is here with them all the time. We can see that gratitude in their eyes, the love and affection they have received, and how they are reliving those memories at every moment.”
Please register to attend the Prabhupada Special Series for teens and youth here: https://forms.gle/oH7DAaVK8BJXYBfD7[ 125th ] [ ac-bhaktivedanta-swami-prabhupada ] [ australia ] [ prabhupada ] [ sydney ] [ teens ] [ youth ] [ zoom ]